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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  August 29, 2017 2:30am-3:00am BST

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into the sea. japan's prime minister has called the launch an unprecedented, serious and grave threat to the nation. the united states and japan have requested a un security council meeting about the latest launch. president donald trump has pledged his full support for the states of texas and louisiana, as tropical storm harvey continues to devastate the region. the catastrophic flooding is expected to get worse as more rain is forecast. up to 2,000 people have been rescued in and around houston. a nurse serving a life sentence for murdering two patients in germany is now a suspect in at least 84 other murder cases. niels hoegel was convicted and jailed two years ago — for giving lethal drug injections to intensive care patients. now on bbc news, time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. relations between the united states
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and north korea have long been difficult. the recent toe—to—toe confrontation between donald trump and kim jong—un raised fears of a conflagration on the korean peninsula. my my guess today has a unique perspective on north korea's often impenetrable mindset. kenneth bae, an american christian missionary of korean descent who was arrested inside north korea and spent two years in a pyongyang prison. what does his experience tell us about the world's most secretive country? kenneth bae, welcome to hardtalk.
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let's begin with your decision to go and live in china in 2006. quite soon afterwards, you began undertaking tours into north korea, that special economic zone inside north korea, close to the chinese border. why did you undertake those tours? i was sent as a missionary to china, andi tours? i was sent as a missionary to china, and i was living in the chinese community. while i was serving in the chinese community, i was able to meet with north korean defectors and others. i ended up visiting north korea to see what it is like to live there, what it is like to see how people live there. by like to see how people live there. by doing so, i ended up conducting a
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tour into the country ‘s. by doing so, i ended up conducting a tour into the country 's. when you say you went there to see how people lived, you also went as a christian missionary? that is correct. i am a christian missionary and i was there to see how we could help the people that, how to pray for the people, and how to build a bridge to the people in north korea. you and the people in north korea. you and the people on your tours, you were all committed christians. you had a christian outreach purpose in going to north korea. you went with bibles? that is correct, we had something to worship with but we kept it to ourselves. i was told it was quite safe as long as we clapped oui’ was quite safe as long as we clapped our worship and prayer to ourselves it was not something to worry about
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—— kept. we went in to see the land and engaged in different conversations, without vandalising people they are. it seems you are treading a difficult, grey line, because as we all know, christianity, for people inside north korea, it is forbidden. if they possess a bible they can face extreme criminal punishment. i going in with a missionary mission and to be intent to signal to those people in north korea your christian purpose, were you not running risks both for yourself and the people you are meeting? it was perfectly 0k to bring a bible as a tourist into north korea. as long as we keep the bible to ourselves, it should not be any problem. what about the chats you had, the hymns you saying with north korean people in close
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attendance? the press? at one point, i believe you said that you pray thatjesus i believe you said that you pray that jesus can make i believe you said that you pray thatjesus can make a channel to the north? —— payers. if north koreans appear sympathetic to that, you would get them and yourself in trouble. we had to work with different channels, we worked with people in the two industry in north korea. there was a specialised city that i brought people into. it was 0kfor that i brought people into. it was ok for christians going on to pray. as long as it was in our own spaces. we fast forward through a number of these trips you undertook, to the trip you undertook in late 2012 when you actually got attained. that's correct. i am feeling that cannot have been a complete surprise to you, given the north korean regime
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and what you are trying to do?” made a mistake by carrying a portable hard drive into the country that contained some theories about western media regarding north korea, about north korea. they were upset to find out that i had brought in something disturbing to them. this is why i was arrested, not because of what i was doing before. one writer has drafted fascinating books about teaching english to the north korean elite. she has considered your case and said that basically, your case and said that basically, you did things that were not allowed by the regime, and you got punished accordingly. that you sort of brought this upon yourself. would you accept that? i made a mistake by carrying a portable hard drive into the country, but when they realised
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i brought people to pray and worship inside north korea, they took it as a hostile act to themselves. they did, they accuse you of all sorts of crimes, but it boiled down to plotting to overthrow the government. that is why you were sentenced to 15 years hard labour. 0verthrowing the government by prayer and worship, that was the charge. take me back to that moment, i believe it was 2013 when you were sentenced. you had had a lot of interrogation by that point. some of it had been quite psychologically intense. how did you feel as you stood there, waiting for your sentence? they told me that i probably would not get anything. i don't have to worry about the worst, thatis don't have to worry about the worst, that is what they told me. that
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meant the death penalty or life in prison. i knew they would go for a more lenient sentence because i was using my place as a political bargaining chip at the time.‘ yea rs bargaining chip at the time.‘ years with hard labour. you said you thought they would treat you leniently, how did you feel when you heard the sentence? leniently, how did you feel when you heard the sentence ?” leniently, how did you feel when you heard the sentence? i was glad that i got 15 years. i didn't think that i would actually serve 15 years of that sentence in north korea. i was sort of told that it is not about how many years i would be getting, it is about the attitude and what the us government would do. from the very beginning, it got the feeling that you were a bargaining chip? not in the beginning, but while the investigation was going, two or three months later, i realised that it was not anything just about myself. examining not just
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it was not anything just about myself. examining notjust myself but our entire us government system. were you ever abused, during the interrogation phase or once they put you into prison as a convict? was there abuse? no, iwas you into prison as a convict? was there abuse? no, i was not abused, but there was some psychological trickery. making us uncomfortable, at the time. once you said, one of the prosecutors told me i was the worst, most dangerous american women they had apprehended since the korean war. they said that because they thought i was doing the missionary work by myself, but i trained and mobilised and brought many people in north korea to pray and worship. there are others who worked in north korea, they said, it not only you, you brought so many others. therefore, you are the most
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dangerous criminal we have ever apprehended. there are so many contradictions to this, i wonder if you can explain. 0n contradictions to this, i wonder if you can explain. on one level, they hated what you were doing and clearly regarded you as dangerous. the christian missionary work was something they found more than alarming. and yet, you say that they'd put you in a cell with a bible, with access to hot water, twice a week you were allowed to visit a former. this is north korea where the ordinary people of the country are suffering the most terrible deprivations, and you had access to a former? that was in my detention centre but for the trial “ sauna. detention centre but for the trial —— sauna. apparently they have private bathrooms with a sauna in
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it. it was not a nice bath time. it was not anything extraordinary.” it. it was not a nice bath time. it was not anything extraordinary. i am just trying to get to grips with what they were doing with you. do you think, from the outset, they wa nted you think, from the outset, they wanted you to be somebody that they, ina sense, wanted you to be somebody that they, in a sense, preserved in a good condition, physically and mentally, because they hoped that your case, there was another american citizen, matthew miller, who was being kept in the same prison for much of the time you were there. they very much for you as part of a way of reaching out to the 0bama administration? exactly. this is what they told me. when i was sent to a labour camp, the conditions were not that great. the food was not great, i had to work eight hours a day, six days per
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week. i was not sitting in a nice room for two years. while i was there working, the prosecutor came to see me and told me that, at this rate, your government doesn't care about you enough, you may have to stay here for another seven or eight yea rs. stay here for another seven or eight years. you probably won't get home until you retire. this is the guy who gave me the 15 years of hard labour sentence. you are officially known as risen at 103, but some gods, when you were alone, they would refer to you as pastor, which suggests to me you developed a relationship with some of them? by about one year into it, i did develop a relationship with some of the gods. i realised they are regular people just like us. they just happened to live there. they
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we re just happened to live there. they were working there. as a human being, we started striking up conversations. when there was nobody around, sometimes instead of calling mea around, sometimes instead of calling me a prisoner, they would say, pastor, can i talk to you? it was like everybody else living in the country as well. having small conversations like that. a great deal of common humanity, you say. i am told that when commentators look at north korea today, so many assume that it at north korea today, so many assume thatitis at north korea today, so many assume that it is a society that is absolutely brainwashed. you have been inside that society, in a very particular way, being a prisonerfor two years. you have emerged from the experience, you look back at it, does it strike you as a brainwashed society? i think that is pretty much true. as soon as they were born,
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they were taught that way. the media, everything, they were surrounded by it. even for me, living there for a few months and watching television and reading the newspapers and books that they get to read, only being there for a few months, i realise that this is actually taking effect on me, because i only see the good sides of the story about the leaders of the country. if people are born there, living in the society, they wonder they think that way. i realised that many of them, they are so brainwashed that, even with different opinions and things, they wa nt to different opinions and things, they want to reject everything, because they don't think it can possibly be
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true. did a warmup to you? i believe so. true. did a warmup to you? i believe so. we were having conversations, they had some second thoughts. they did wander. information is key if we wa nt to did wander. information is key if we want to see any changes happening in north korea. information from outside, communication is very important as a tool for winning the hearts of people in north korea. you are released at the end of 2014 and that seemed to be because of a secret visit by james clapper to north korea. i'm mindful that your case is so varied if —— different to that of the young man 0tto warmbier who also ended up in prison in north korea. it is collocated. he was accused of stealing a fine and then each used of espionage and imprisoned. —— stealing a sign. soon after, it seems, he suffered
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terrible brain injury and ultimately was returned to the us and died very $0011 was returned to the us and died very soon afterwards. given what you have described about your treatment, can you in anyway explain or speculate about what happened to 0tto warmbier? i can only guess, just like everybody else. i do believe that either there was physical abuse 01’ some that either there was physical abuse or some kind of accident that could have happened. why would they abuse him and not you? your guess is as good as mine. i think it depends on what 0tto warmbier actually did to trigger those kinds of things as well. if it was the poster being taken down, i believe that the poster has kim jong—un taken down, i believe that the poster has kimjong—un name on it. if so, it is harsh treatment that
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could be given. maybe he had no idea what he was taking down but it has kim jong—un‘s name on the posters and it's actually a pretty serious crime against them. the treatment could be different. and then maybe because in his interview, he used the words, "save my life." people don't usually say these things. "spare my life," maybe but not saved my life. he was going under physical 01’ my life. he was going under physical ora my life. he was going under physical or a psychological threat and may be going through a nervous breakdown or something like that. a lot has changed since you were released. not only has kim jong—un‘s authority in north korea being exercised in all sorts of ways including more and more missile tests and allegations he has now conquered the
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militarisation of a nuclear device but we have also seen a change of administration in the united states. donald trump is now the president and we have seen that highly dramatic, intense stand—off between kim jong—un dramatic, intense stand—off between kimjong—un and dramatic, intense stand—off between kim jong—un and donald trump dramatic, intense stand—off between kimjong—un and donald trump in recent weeks. with your perspective and insight, based on what you know of north korea, when donald trump talks of fire and fury, talks of locking and loading, talks of displaying power to north korea, the likes of which people have never seen before, how do you think north koreans and obviously their leader kimjong—un, koreans and obviously their leader kim jong—un, would respond koreans and obviously their leader kimjong—un, would respond to koreans and obviously their leader kim jong—un, would respond to that? they don't like losing their face. in terms of a tough stand, they will continue to stand and stand with that kind of position. i think the missile could nuclear testing may
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continue until they get to the level they want to be out. you are saying intimidation doesn't work?m they want to be out. you are saying intimidation doesn't work? it may work in little bit but i think eventually they know there is a limitation to what the us government can do because we are talking about a publication whether south korean government and japan and everybody else nearby, it may take some time but they may get to where they need to be so they can finally make a meaningful negotiation with the united government. you now live in seoul and in south korea they are looking with some consternation. you have gone to live in seoul and it seems dedicated your life to working, ina seems dedicated your life to working, in a large part, with escapees from north korea. tell me
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about the people you are working with today. how many in an average year now out of north korea and what are they telling you about the way they are experiencing these conditions in north korea right now? every year at least 1000— 1500 people are escaping. many numbers of people are escaping. many numbers of people are escaping but have been caught on their way to china. but the numbers have gone down. is that because kim jong—un and his the numbers have gone down. is that because kimjong—un and his regime are guiding and monitoring the river border with china much more closely at its more difficult to escape today than it used to be? yes, that's true. right now, it is a lot harderfor people to that's true. right now, it is a lot harder for people to cross the water. after they escape from north korea, they are living in the border area and from then to get away to
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the cities and southern regions, it's very difficult. and from the recent escapees, is it your impression that living conditions, we know from un agencies that roughly 70% of the population are reliant on food aid, in your opinion, is it getting worse or better? exactly getting better than before. now they have free market system, almost, and they are using it to gain economic wealth. it's not because of what the government did but the people themselves have to rely on themselves and now they are making trade everyday. it seems like it's got them during those found in yea rs it's got them during those found in years but in terms of people's
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suffering, it still same. let's go back to where i began which is asking you about the degree to which you have to take personal responsibility for your arrest in north korea. you arguably made some pretty terrible decisions. itjust strikes me that this issue of committed christians wanting to get into north korea for missionary work, it hasn't gone away. after you we re work, it hasn't gone away. after you were arrested, i have found this extraordinary comment from the youth with a mission movement who like to send missionaries to difficult places including north korea. even after you had been detained, talked about preparing men and women for preventing the gospel to north koreans. those people whose minds and hearts have atrophied in darkness under communist rule. the missionary group said, "as long as participants keep a level head and use common sense, there should be no
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trouble." that use common sense, there should be no trouble. " that is use common sense, there should be no trouble." that is an outrageous thing to say, isn't it? now you know the us government had issued restrictions and travel bans to north korea. that's right. i was telling them that for now, time is very different. at the time i was arrested four years ago, time is different. especially after 0tto warmbier‘s case, i do not recommend people go there as a tourist at that time. still, a missionary brandishing a bible. well, you know, every group has their own way of doing things. i cannot say for sure that everybody but do believe that they can go with responsibilities. surely, your message, given your personal experience, to anybody
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going into north korea doing christian outreach, surely your message to them, as a responsible person, should be, "do not do it." well, they had to count the costs. i had to pay the cost was that i was imprisoned for two years. ——i had to pay the cost. i was imprisoned for two years. pay the cost. i was imprisoned for two yea rs. i pay the cost. i was imprisoned for two years. i developed a hard for people in north korea. i am working with refugees outside of north korea. my heart is still the same for the people inside north korea. we're talking about 34 million people with no human rights freedoms to choose when they want to leave and there is no information going into them. we need to embrace and ca re into them. we need to embrace and care for them but we need to do it wisely. so, in a word, was your experience worth it? jetta i do believe so. kenneth bae, we need to leave it there. --i do believe so.
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thank you very much for coming on hardtalk. thank you. hello. a full uk forecast is on the way and i can tell you, it will be nothing like as disruptive or dangerous as the weather we're still seeing on the other side of the atlantic. tropical storm harvey has already delivered over one metre of rain in parts of texas. the radar picture shows the wet weather has been relentless and it continues on tuesday. we are likely to see further flooding and the problems may extend further east as well, along the gulf coast, through parts of louisiana, mississippi, alabama. the risk of tornadoes as well. this dangerous weather situation continues. back home, some spots on monday got up to 28 degrees and south—eastern areas could see something
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similar on tuesday. further north and west, areas of cloud working into the picture. this stripe of cloud through yorkshire, lincolnshire, midlands, wales and the south—west. very slow—moving, the odd spot of rain along it. it marks a line between cooler and fresh air from the north—west and some warmth that clings on the south—eastern corner. some sunny spells through london, essex, suffolk, kent. some spots here could get up to 28 degrees. not a bad day for the channel islands but for the south—west of england, some cooler, fresher air. despite some sunshine, 17 or 18 degrees. maybe 20 in cardiff. a stripe of cloud stretching up across a good part of the midlands. for northern ireland, we end up with a mixture of sunshine and showers. temperatures on the low side. 16 degrees in belfast. some heavy showers being blown into northwest scotland on a strong and blustery wind.
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maybe 17 degrees in aberdeen. not too bad across northern england. some sunshine but lincolnshire and the north norfolk coast as well, cloud and drizzle and misty, murky conditions. for tuesday night and the early part of wednesday, dry weather around, but by the end of the night, two different weather systems swarming and gathering down to the south. these bring a pretty wet day for parts of southern england, these threaten to bring a pretty wet day for parts of southern england, the midlands and wales as we go through wednesday. 0ne weather system towards the south—west, one to the south—east. the two are likely to merge to bring a lot of cloud, outbreaks of rain, increasingly blustery winds and a cool, fresh feel to the weather. temperatures well down across parts of the south—east. maybejust 17 degrees in london. through northern england, northern ireland and scotland, afairamount of sunshine, some showers and temperatures similar, 16 or 17 degrees. we stick with the cooler, fresher feel for the end of the week with some spells of sunshine and just a few showers. welcome to bbc news,
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broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. our top stories: raised tensions on the korean peninsula, as north korea's latest missile passes over northern japan. the un security council will meet to discuss the launch. catastrophic flooding in texas and louisiana forces thousands of people into shelters. more rain is forecast in the coming days. up to 2,000 people have been rescued, many plucked to safety from rooftops by helicopter. president trump warns it will be a long and difficult road to recovery. we've pledged our full support as texas and louisiana battle
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and recover from this devastating and historic storm. 84 counts of murder. the nurse who may be germany's most prolific serial killer since the second world war.
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